Integrated marine and inland water management

Key facts

Programme Operator:
Ministry of the Environment
Programme ID:
Programme Donors
Norwegian Environment Agency (NEA)
Date of approval:
Total amount:
EEA Grants fund:
Norway Grants fund:
€ 0

Currently available funding

Programme Summary

Why was the programme needed? A crucial aspect of marine and inland water management is having access to updated environmental information. Prior to the programme, the quality of the information available in Estonia for developing a parameter system on the country’s environmental was low. Moreover, the connection between environmental information and Estonia’s environmental management and control system was rather weak. There was a need to improve the compatibility of various environmental data sets to enable an optimal exchange, use and storing of data across sectors such as research and public administration. In order to obtain improved information on environmental impact, status and trends, it is necessary to gather high quality, operational and reliable environmental information (including on marine and inland waters), as well as relevant analysis. The Estonian Integrated Marine and Inland Water Management programme received a funding of 6 900 000 euros from the EEA Grants to improve the environmental status of its marine and inland waters. The Estonian Ministry of Environment served as the Programme Operator and was assisted by the Norwegian Environment Agency (Miljødirektoratet – NEA) as a Donor Programme Partner. The programme focused on strengthening the competence in the public and private sectors and building capacity through cooperation and exchange of experience with partners from the Donor states. What did the programme achieve? The programme established important environmental targets and measures that were needed for achieving good environmental status in the Baltic Sea and Estonian inland waters. For example, the programme developed a monitoring programme for Estonia’s marine area and as well as a monitoring system for the Estonian marine and coastal habitats. The marine monitoring programme is coherent with those of its neighbouring countries sharing the same marine area. The coherence has been established through regional cooperation in the Helsinki Commission by using core indicators, which helps the countries monitor, collect data and assess the status of ecosystem elements using the same methodologies. As a result the countries can take joint actions for managing pressures such as pollution and climate change. Furthermore, it established a water data modelling system that will feed in to more informed and improved decision-makings at the state level, and developed a draft of the Estonian National Climate Change Strategy. The Estonian National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (NAS), which was adopted by government in spring 2017, is politically a very important document, as it will ensure better coherence of the various sectors related to adaptation to the impacts of climate change. The elaboration of NAS was based on EU methodologies, the EU strategy on adaptation to climate change and the 5th IPCC assessment report. The NAS is in accordance with the Paris Agreement, which sets the long-term adaptation goal and contains the commitment to elaborate the national climate plans -including not only countries plans to reduce emissions, but also descriptions of their adaptation goals, priorities, actions and needs. Before the programme, Estonia was lagging behind in certain areas of environmental research (including ecosystem research). Therefore, implementation also included the development of a methodology and assessments of key ecosystem services of marine and inland waters, and the analysis and identification of climate change impacts on said ecosystem services – and not least development of possible national measures for adaptation. One of the projects developed a joint information system for models and applications. By combining monitoring data with mathematically modelled data, the VeeVeeb system is able to assess the status of Estonia’s surface waters and plan relevant measures, compile national reports, as well as identify specific areas susceptible to pollution and facilitate the day-to-day work of water specialists. Such systemic management of Estonia’s water protection needs offers numerous benefits for the country’s implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive and The Marine Strategy of the EU. The programme also collected a significant amount of new information on marine habitats, location and status, including information about Estonia’s Exclusive Economic Zone. In addition, monitoring and assessment methods for marine and coastal habitat types as well as for ringed seals were carried out, assessment methods and mapping of ecosystem services of marine and inland waters were developed and restoration works of two river habitats (including the only location of Freshwater pearl mussel habitat in Estonia) were completed. How were bilateral relations strengthened? The programme significantly contributed to encouraging cooperation between Estonia and the Donor states. The cooperation with partners from Donor states at project level was higher than expected. Twelve out of 13 projects involved a donor partner; 11 out of 12 donor country partners were from Norway and one from Iceland. The Estonian project promoters highly appreciated the Donor Partners’ professional knowledge and networks. For example, the partnership between the Estonian Environmental Research Centre and the Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection (Direktoratet for samfunnsikkerhet og beredskap – DSB) during the implementation of the NAS project brought together the parties of Estonia’s Ministry of the Environment and the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment, both of whom are central decision makers for the two countries in the field of climate change adaptation. As the DSB, with its leading role in the adaptation to climate change, is under the administration of the Ministry of Justice of Norway, the need for horizontal cooperation between ministries has become apparent in Estonia. Through public dissemination seminars, DSB has made Norway a considerable partner and guide in the continuous process of climate change adaptation in Estonia. Additionally, the water-modelling project “The development of data-modelling system and the decision support tool for the integrated marine and inland water management” benefited from excellent cooperation with its Donor Partner – the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (Norsk institutt for bioøkonomi - NIBIO). During project implementation, the partners got numerous ideas of how to further develop the modelling system and they would therefore like to continue developing the system together and add there climate change information and modelling tools. In May 2015, a study trip to Norway was carried out for 20 participants in the NAS project. The main activities included learning from the practical elaboration of Norwegian climate change adaptation measures, vulnerability assessment and project visits. As a result of the study trip the participants gained valuable knowledge on how to analyse climate change impacts and develop adaptation measures, which was directly related with four projects and useful for developing the draft of the Estonian National Climate Change Strategy. There was also a fruitful and effective bilateral cooperation with NEA as the designated DPP. The close cooperation has been a key factor for achieving the goals of the programme. The DPP is very skilled in the programme’s focus area and has a long experience with international cooperation. The help provided by DPP was extremely valuable, relevant and appreciated. What will be the impact of the programme? The PO and DPP formed a strong partnership during the Programme period. The experiences and expertise of the DPP gave strong input to the success of the Programme. The fruitful cooperation between PO and DPP will continue in the next EEA funding period for 2014-2021, where the Estonian Ministry of the Environment serves as PO for the EEA programme on Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation. Estonia has got an excellent knowledge about how to develop different strategies and measures. As the programme had a limited time, budget and topic areas, there are still many fields where to continue the cooperation. In the research field, the cooperation will continue even after the closure of projects. Before 2013, information about climate change impacts in different sectors was fragmented and scattered between different authorities and institutes. However, thanks to the NAS project, Estonia can plan and direct climate change adaptation comprehensively through one development plan. This will ensure better coherence of the various sectors related to climate change adaptation. The NAS and its related action plan were adopted by the Government on 2nd of March 2017, and should be followed by several research activities, analyses and sector developments when implementation begins.